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Hensarling Plan Would Expand NCUA’s Board
Friday, June 17, 2016 6:45 AM

Under the sweeping financial regulatory overhaul plan being developed by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), the NCUA board would be expanded from three to five members. Hensarling outlined his plan last week, and Republican leaders in the House endorsed it on Tuesday.

While credit union trade groups have praised the Hensarling plan for curtailing the regulatory regime of Dodd-Frank, they may not react in a similar way to a board expansion. The broad Hensarling proposal would essentially repeal the Dodd-Frank Act and replace it with a new regime that includes a plan that would require Congress to approve any significant financial regulation.

The legislation contains a laundry list of regulatory changes that Republicans have pushed during the past several years. Many of those have been contained in legislation that has not been enacted. In fact, the plan incorporates several specific House bills into the overarching legislation.

Congress is scheduled to take long breaks for the national party conventions and to allow members to campaign, so it is unlikely that the House and Senate will have the time and desire to enact such sweeping legislation this year. But the Hensarling plan may serve as a marker for action next year.

The Hensarling plan would also require the NCUA to hold open hearings on its budget—something that NCUA Chairman Rick Metsger said will occur this year. The plan would require the NCUA to provide a rationale for any funds the board proposes to use from the Share Insurance Fund.

The agency’s budget would be required to contain a report detailing the NCUA’s overhead transfer rate and provide a rationale for any proposed use of funds. It also would establish a Credit Union Advisory Council to consult with the NCUA on how federal laws and regulations affect credit unions.

The legislative plan also incorporates a proposal by Rep. Frank Guinta (R-NH) to codify a plan to allow certain well-capitalized credit unions to have an 18-month exam cycle. The NCUA already has the power to change the exam cycle, and Metsger has said he would like that authority to remain in the board’s hands rather than specified in law.

The Hensarling plan would also allow states and tribes to request an unconditional five-year waiver from the CFPB for short-term, small-dollar credit. And it would repeal the CFPB’s authority to prohibit arbitration clauses in financial services contracts and repeal the so-called Durbin Amendment on debit interchange fees.

The plan also would require any major financial regulations to be approved by Congress before they become effective.